Love Looks Like This: Long Distance Love in Lockdown

love looks like this

 Cristina Cianci

Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, Elena Ciprietti tells her story. 

I am living in the most romantic country in the world during one of the darkest times in recent history. As I navigate a collective weight of suffering and uncertainty, I also have the privilege of experiencing immense joy and light—and much of this I have to thank Angelo, my boyfriend. 

We were separated for almost two whole months during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, but the experience brought us even closer together. I never planned on being in a long-distance relationship with a partner who lives just 40 minutes away, but I learned to accept the situation and keep an open heart. Just as I trusted that the sun would rise each morning, I trusted that the day would come where we could see each other again. 

We were at our respective apartments when the lockdown was announced, explaining that we were only allowed to go to nearby grocery stores and pharmacies. Walks were limited to a maximum 2 blocks from our home. There was no way for us to see each other. The world seemed to become infinitely smaller in a matter of moments. 

We learned that our relationship could adjust to whatever life would throw at us when we stood united, staying grounded in the present moment. 

Many times this felt like cruel and unusual punishment, but there was always a silver lining. We learned that our relationship could adjust to whatever life would throw at us when we stood united, staying grounded in the present moment. 

We started introducing small rituals throughout the day, like drinking coffee together over video chat, and watching TV shows at the same time and laughing about them afterwards. Italian men are known for their dramatic, grand gestures, but what I love about Angelo is his consistency and reliability. Every morning, I knew that he was going to be there for me during this difficult time. I knew that he would patiently listen to me as I shared my frustrations. I knew that when something wasn’t working around the house, I could call him and he would show me how to solve it in less than 2 minutes. I felt how much he cared for me when he would call me at night to wish me buona notte (sweet dreams), as nightmares started to creep up and scare me.  I would then wake up with a text message from him, asking me if I slept soundly. 

On Monday May 4th, this distance was shortened as we entered phase 2 of the lockdown where we could see family members and take longer walks, as most businesses still remained closed. There was much debate on who constituted as a congiunto (relative), and shortly thereafter we were told that we could also see significant others. Each day closer to May 4th felt like an eternity, but I knew that it would undoubtedly be the best Monday of my life. 

When I saw him approaching, my stomach exploded with butterflies—exponentially more than the first time we met. Our very first date ended with a walk around the city for hours, hand in hand. This walk during COVID-19 times had to be done over 3 feet apart, but that didn’t even matter. It was a victory to be in the same place at the same time, in the same park surrounded by the same rainbow of flowers under the same electric blue sky. 

No relationship is perfect, but what keeps me holding on is having a partner that can turn the mundane into something magnificent.

It was quite the adjustment to go from eating every meal alone to sitting across from the man who makes me light up with a smile. Suddenly, dinner was a celebration. He came with a notepad filled with recipes he had been elaborating over the last weeks to impress me. He had decadent olive oil shipped over from his native Sicily, along with new appliances he would need to use to create our special dinners. He spent hours preparing every detail for this first meal together, setting the mood with Italian jazz music. The lyrics “è un privilegio stare con te / tutto è distante / niente lo è…” (it’s a privilege to be with you / everything is distant / nothing is) came from the speakers, and I smiled at the perfect synchronicity. 

On Tuesday morning, I woke up in a state of bliss, wondering how I could be so fortunate. No relationship is perfect, but what keeps me holding on is having a partner that can turn the mundane into something magnificent. There is no going back to “normal” as the world has shifted and so have we, and I look forward to creating a new normal together with Angelo. 

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